André Le Clerc aka Ahmed Mansour. Extract from One Day in Paris
In this extract from One Day in Paris, Ahmed Mansour, the child of parents killed by the IDF in a cross border raid against the PLO, escapes to the west where he works hard and succeeds in his adopted Country of France, becoming Andre le Clerc, while he bides his time for Jihad revenge.
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André felt a tightening in his chest as he sat in the driver’s seat of his Mercedes, stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the Avenue Georges V. He was just a five-minute drive from his apartment and the thought it might take as much as an hour to travel less than two kilometers added another layer of discomfort. He sat back in the leather seat and rotated his shoulders, taking deep measured breaths. The weather was hot. He turned the car’s air conditioning down one further degree. Eventually he felt the chest pain dissipate. He reached into his side pocket and withdrew a pack of Marlboros, slipped one out and lit it with practiced dexterity. He took a draw on the cigarette, sucking the smoke deep into his lungs. His chest tightened again; the nagging pain returned. André had known for some time that there were consequences for his extreme smoking. He had been a smoker all of his adult life and now at the age of forty-nine his lung function was impaired. He saw no point in going for any tests; he was after all a doctor himself and well aware of the extent to which his health was compromised. Still, there was no point trying to cut back at a time like this. In just another week, the culmination of six months’ work would herald the conclusion of his responsibilities. He only had to keep those black lungs breathing for another week.
Today had been a good day he reflected. The martyrs had all landed successfully and been delivered to their respective houses. His four local recruits were all in position and demonstrating the qualities that he had identified in the selection process. He recalled the moment almost six months ago when he had been offered the job.
“We need four Paris-resident Muslims. High-functioning, highly-motivated individuals looking for the opportunity to strike a mighty blow in the name of Islam. They will need to speak fluent Urdu as well as French. Have a clean drivers license and knowledge of Paris roads. They will have to be free of any criminal record or any membership of organisations that might be unpopular in France. They will need to be capable with small arms and prepared to shoot indiscriminately. They will need to be intelligent and able to follow their orders without question. We will require their full-time service for a three-week period starting from the second week of June. They will need to demonstrate man management skills and they will need leadership qualities. In exchange for this service we offer them the opportunity to achieve in Jihad a glory that the world has never seen before as well as the payment to each man of one million Euros in cash. This money will be delivered to the address of their choosing on the day of their action.”
The first thought that went through André’s mind at that time was, they couldn’t have come to a better-qualified person for this particular job. Unlike most of the 200 employees of his company First Software Solutions, who were born in France, André Le Clerc was born Ahmed Mansour, in Lebanon. His father, Abdallah Mansour, a prominent lawyer, served as a prosecutor in the justice ministry in Beirut for most of Ahmed’s early life, before his retirement to a farm in the south of the country in 1981. Ahmed was seventeen at the time and the timing of the family move out of the city was chosen to coincide with Ahmed starting his first year as a medical student at Beirut University. He was an intelligent student, one year ahead of his classmates. It was just a few months into his first year of study that Ahmed’s life changed forever.
As fortune would have it events in London on 3 June 1982 would soon touch Ahmed’s life. On that day Shlomo Argov, the Israeli ambassador to Britain, was leaving the Dorchester Hotel in London when he was shot in the head. Israel’s retaliation followed almost immediately. Forty-eight hours after Argov’s body hit the ground, ‘Operation Peace for Galilee’ began when Israeli troops crossed the Lebanese border for an occupation that would last eighteen devastating years.
Looking back on events afterwards Ahmed was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that his parents had no idea that their neighboring farm housed a PLO training facility, just as he was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the uniformed IDF assassin who arrived at the front door behind a hail of bullets knew that the seventy-five year old grey-haired gentleman and his wife had no connection with Abu Nidal, the PLO, or any terrorist cause.
Ahmed had been in his room upstairs, prostrate on his mat, deep in prayer, when he heard the clatter of machine gun fire smashing through the front door. He rose quickly, having barely enough time to get to his doorway on the first floor to witness the scene unfolding in the hallway below. Abdallah Mansour’s last words as he faced the three combat soldiers were “What are you doing in my house?” before the group leader very deliberately aimed a burst of Uzi fire at his head. Ahmed watched in a trance, noticing how his mother’s back straightened as she turned to face the gunman. One word crossed her lips before the cackle of 9 mm automatic fire partially decapitated her: “Murderers”. In that instant the spell was broken. The world that had stopped turning suddenly went into a full speed tailspin. Ahmed knew he had to get away. Quickly and quietly.
Many times after that night he would look back on the sequence of events that followed and marvel at Allah’s collusion in his escape. Barefoot and with just the clothes he wore, he survived the jump from his first floor bedroom window to the hard ground below where he hit the ground running, dodging between the shadows spread by exploding balls of fire as all around IDF soldiers transformed the area to a flaming incarnation of hell on earth.
Only after twenty-four hours of running through darkness and hiding in ditches by daylight, did he find a safe haven, the home of a family fifty miles to the north who answered his desperate knock. It took another three days to get back to Beirut where he arrived at the door of his uncle; and a further week passed before he woke up in the new home where he would spend the next five years, that of his paternal uncle, Farouk Mansour, a medical doctor who had moved to Paris many years previously, before marrying a Frenchwoman, Mireille Le Clerc.
Under Farouk’s kind tutelage, Ahmed quickly acquired a command of French and returned to his medical studies. He channeled his anger into a vow that by empowering himself with an education and social status he would one day be able to achieve a proper measure of revenge for the horrific events that had befallen him. From being a bright student in Beirut he became a brilliant scholar in Paris, with a tremendous capacity for memorizing lengthy passages from medical journals that soon positioned him at the top of his class.
“You see how your diligence in memorizing the Quran has helped you develop the memory side of your brain that is now helping you succeed in academia” uncle Farouk observed.
Farouk believed that channeling Ahmed’s attention toward challenging study would eventually cause the bitter memories to fade. He thought the passage of time and success as a medical professional would be distracting. Far better to help the boy make a life for himself in France than let him return to an uncertain future, drawn into the inevitability of a politicized life that awaited him should he return to Lebanon. But from the moment of his arrival in Paris it was apparent (although not surprising) that Ahmed harboured deep resentment towards his parents’ killers. “They did absolutely nothing wrong. They were loyal servants of Lebanon, hard-working, honest people, and look at what happened to them. The Israelis killed them like pigs. They destroyed everything, not just our lives, but the life of our country; and no one did anything about it. The world just stood back and let them do it. Where is the justice for my parents? Where is the justice for my homeland?” asked Ahmed.
“There is nothing we can do about this now” Farouk replied. “But, if this is a path you are determined to follow, then you will find the way forward. Here in Paris, by studying hard and making something of yourself, you have the opportunity to build yourself up to a position of power. A poor man has no voice and no power. When you have achieved status as a man of means and influence, you can take a view on how best to redress the wrongs that have been done. In the meanwhile, keep your head down and study.”
Farouk advised a name change as a part of Ahmed’s integration into French society and so he took the family name of Farouks wife. Ahmed Mansour became André Le Clerc. André completed his medical studies with flying colours; rather than specializing or going into general practice he then completed an MBA. Driven by a fierce motivation to earn his fortune as quickly as possible André chose a career in pharmaceuticals, cutting his teeth with a well-paid three-year appointment with a multinational in Quebec before returning to France as European head of marketing. After seven years of consistent success he found his niche opportunity with a business plan for supplying software to the medical profession that combined his familiarity with the workings of big pharmaceuticals and the requirements of controlled medical facilities. He named his company First Medical Software Solutions, FMSS. He financed the first phase of development with his own considerable savings to ensure sole ownership. First Medical Software Solutions was an immediate success, turning over 500 million Euros within three years, shortly after which Andre oversaw flotation on the CAC Small market, which netted him a payout of twenty-one million Euros. By this time Andre was just thirty-nine. His life up until now had comprised four key elements: serving Allah, an obsessive workaholic attitude, a commitment to smoking Marlboro Reds and the unquenchable determination to one day avenge his parents.
After the share payout the enormous wealth at his disposal had a curious effect on André’s work ethic. First Medical Software Solutions was by now a self-perpetuating entity. Having relinquished his role as chairman and leaving the way clear for a new challenge with which to occupy himself, André became aware that no distraction could fix the nagging ache in his heart. All the years of compulsive pursuit of academic success and then business excellence had left no time for his emotional needs. And now, with each passing day, the toxic well of bitterness deep in his soul, opened by the hail of Israeli bullets into his seventeen-year-old memory, began to seep outwards, like a thin volcanic thread seeking an outlet. Nine years passed in this surreal festering limbo before a post-prayer coffee with the Imam at his mosque turned to the words he had waited this long to hear.
“André, the time has come. I have someone here who wants to meet with you. He is man of great interest and great influence. He is Karim El Moumni, an esteemed businessman from Saudi.” The tragic circumstances of André’s family were well known to the Imam and he had relayed the story to El Moumni, who began their meeting with the words: “I am here because of what happened to your family in 1982.” He had André’s full attention after that.
André found himself immediately at ease with El Moumni. This was not some hare-brained ranting Muslim kook on a suicide mission; El Moumni was a highly intelligent, articulate and estimable gentleman, comfortable with the social etiquette consistent with the wielding of enormous power. André listened in respectful silence which gradually turned to awe as El Moumni detailed the scale of the operation and his requirements.
Within a month André would be required to lease four Parisian properties suitable for housing men and weapons in complete secrecy, move significant sums of money with a string of detailed security precautions, acquire four minivans, recruit four bilingual Urdu-speakers with leadership skills and clean driving licenses who were also skilled jihadists prepared to kill on command; and then to coordinate the collection and housing of sixteen young martyrs who would be smuggled in by sea for a major attack on French interests. All of this added up to a simply irresistible challenge. Finally André had found his calling in a project worthy of both his skills and his considerable fortune, which at last would find a meaningful purpose.
The emotional connection with that terrible day, watching the way his parents had died, could at last be allowed to come to the surface. He had honoured his deal with uncle Farouk, had become a successful and respected Paris resident and now he was in a position to consider the volcanic anger inside him. All those years acquiring the range of skills and means at his disposal could finally be vindicated by his actions. He lit a cigarette, savoring the sharp pain in his lungs as he drew deeply on its glowing red tip. He rode the scything wave of pain and inhaled again.